Sophia Fredericks, Social Engagement Intern, National Headquarters Washington D.C.
“Afghan Girl”: 12 year old Sharbat Gula had a face that not many could forget after her photo was featured in National Geographic. Gula’s photo was taken in a refugee camp in Pakistan in 1984. Her green eyes mesmerized and made her well known around the world. Gula’s photo helped put a focus on the thousands of Afghani refugees fleeing conflict with the Soviets.
Gula is currently under arrest in Pakistan for falsifying documents and illegally residing in Pakistan, she may face up to fourteen years in prison if found guilty. She was arrested due to authorities beginning to crack down on illegal national identity cards. The crack down on Afghans has gotten more intense since the leader of the Taliban Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour who was carrying illegal documents was killed in a drone strike.
Her arrest symbolizes the increasing pressure of Afghani refugees to leave Pakistan and return home. It was found that out of the 370,000 Afghans in Pakistan, 220,000 are refugees. Refugees in Pakistan are acknowledged by the UNHCR as “the largest protracted refugee situation globally” while Human Rights Watch has spoken against the forceful return of Afghan refugees.
Greece: As winter approaches there is a need to provide aid to refugees and migrants who are residing in refugee camps in Greece. The Red Cross has been working to distribute various items such as thermal blankets, rain coats, sleeping bags and warm hats and gloves. The aid was able to be distributed to seven different camps in Greece so far
Tiina Saarikoski the operations manager of the IFRC in Greece said that “According to the Government, more than 60,000 people, mainly families, are stuck in Greece waiting for decisions on asylum and EU relocation.” Aid is provided to help those currently residing in the camp, but allowing people to relocate from camps due to poor conditions is essential.
The need for assistance in Greece increased as healthcare, water and shelter are needed. The European commission has so far allocated 198 million to assist in the refugee and migrant crisis in Greece. However the Red Cross remains concerned about the welfare of refugees and migrants in camps as the cold months set in and they continue to assist by distributing essential items.